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The idea that gravely ill patients should have access to experimental medicines is morally unassailable. A bill before Congress to establish a national “right to try,” however, is the wrong way of going about it.

Passed by unanimous consent in the Senate last fall and endorsed with gusto by President Donald Trump in his State of the Union speech, the legislation would allow Americans to use yet-to-be-approved drugs that have passed only preliminary safety tests — without permission from the Food and Drug Administration. The bill is similar to right-to-try laws that have been passed by 38 states.

Though grounded in compassion, the bill would do little to actually improve the prospects of terminally ill patients — and may put some of them at greater risk. For one, its underlying assumption — that the FDA gets in the way — is plain wrong. The FDA already allows “compassionate use” of medicines still in development, approving almost every one of the applications it receives within days, if not hours. Any delays patients face usually come from the drugs’ developers.

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Bloomberg

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